Effects of Brain Injury
Even after a minor head injury, brain function can be temporarily impaired and this is sometimes referred to as concussion. This can lead to difficulties such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, depression, irritability and memory problems. While most people are symptom-free within two weeks, some can experience problems for months or even years after a minor head injury.
The more severe the brain injury, the more pronounced the long-term effects are likely to be. Survivors of more severe brain injury are likely to have complex long-term problems affecting their personality, their relationships and their ability to lead an independent life. Even with good rehabilitation, support and help in the community, survivors and their families are likely to face uncertain and challenging futures.
‘Before my stroke, things were different. I can see now why some people with disabilities feel they have to put in double the effort’
A brain injury affects each person in a unique way. Problems can include:
- Difficulties with attention and concentration – particularly in noisy and busy environments
- Changes in memory – common problems are forgetting what has been said, difficulty in following a story or film, not being able to remember people’s names and learning new skills
- Relationship difficulties – these can result from physical disabilities, changes in personality or psychological effects of the injury
- Epilepsy – seizures are most common in the first week after a brain injury. However, this does not mean that they can not happen at other times following injury
- Difficulty with balance or co-ordination (ataxia), vertigo and dizziness
- Dyspaxia – inability to follow instructions
- Hemiparisis or hemiplegia – causes deficits in mobility on one side of the body
- Dysphasia – disruption in language
- Behaviour problems/traits can be exacerbated after a brain injury. Personality changes can occur such as increased irritability, loss of confidence or impulsiveness. There may be a lack of motivation to do anything
- Fatigue – this could be due to sleep disturbances or the amount of effort being exerted to carry out the simplest of everyday tasks
- Anger – anger over what has happened and your resulting injury or increased irritability and inability to control your temper. Things that may not have bothered you before, may do now
‘In short, the Headway team gives one a sense that all is not lost and there is life after a head injury’
Behavioural, emotional and cognitive problems are the most significant lasting effects of brain injury. Even minor injuries can produce lasting and traumatic problems. As no two injuries result in the same set of disabilities it is important that each person receives an individual programme of care and rehabilitation which is available at Headway Thames Valley.